SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Management at shopping centers all over are on edge after a shooting at a Clackamas mall Tuesday, but they say they can be confident in the safety procedures they have in place specifically for what the Clackamas Town Center and its patrons faced.
Malls seemed to still be full of shoppers Wednesday, as people tried to continue with holiday shopping, but likely with some heightened sensitivity felt by both from shoppers and mall management.
Both Gateway Mall–a Rouse property–and Valley River Center released statements regarding the shooting. Both shopping centers expressed sympathy to the victims and witnesses and also touched on their security practices.
Valley River Center said, “The safety of our shoppers is our top priority. We have a thorough security program in place at our center and work closely with law enforcement to address specific issues.”
Rouse Properties representatives said, “We take yesterday’s highly unusual and isolated incident very seriously and remain fully committed to ensuring a safe environment for our shoppers, employees and retailers. We have strict security measures in place to help mitigate against potential risks.”
Malls, of course, work with law enforcement to ensure that safety. Springfield Police along with Eugene Police and the Lane County Sheriff’s Office all participate in active shooter training, which is what Clackamas County said made them ready for Tuesday’s situation.
“Whether it’s a school or a mall or a church, anywhere when you have a lot of people in one area, everyone is going to respond,” said Sgt. John Umenhofer, Springfield Police Department.
Sergeant Umenhofer says these situations used to only be handled by SWAT, but not anymore.
Clackamas County deputies say they had just done an active shooter training at the town center, which helped during Tuesday’s situation, and the same is true here in Lane County.
“There’s a lot of locations out there where these situations like this can happen, so we have to be flexible and respond to wherever we need to go, but we have done training in many of these areas to prepare for these situations,” Umenhofer said.
Preparation can make or break a situation like what happened at Clackamas Town Center, and locally, all parties ensure that they’re ready.
Local police say the public can help in situations like the shooting by being prepared. Officers say just being aware of your surroundings is the most important think you could do in an emergency.
On Tuesday, many shoppers took it upon themselves to help others escape. Police say that helped in a way officers couldn’t.
“I would say be aware of your surroundings, be aware of what’s going on, and once you’re aware that the situation is critical, get yourself and your family to safety, and get on that phone to call us and let us know what’s going on,” said Sgt. John Umenhofer, Springfield Police Department.
Other than that, police say to wait and know law enforcement is on its way as soon as possible.